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Understanding and managing the Piracy Continuum™ by Phil Brady, Irdeto C ontent owners, content distributors and security vendors have traditionally characterized digital “pirates” as a single malicious group with ill intentions. This, however, is seriously short-sighted because it is an overgeneralization that not only overshadows true consumer behavior, but results in misguided piracy mitigation tactics and missed revenue opportunities. Interest in video is at an all time high. A few years ago, there were a number of challenges in getting high quality video content, such as low Internet bandwidth and a lack of media playback-enabled devices. Today, however, things have changed drastically with consumers demanding more, both in terms of content availability and breadth of accessibility. Put quite simply, piracy has gotten much easier and is now more mainstream than ever. Piracy is not a single behavior, but rather a continuum of behaviors. Within the Piracy Continuum™, there are six distinct groups: Criminals “I make money on your content.” Criminals attack content protection technology with the intention of selling either the mechanisms for getting around the security, such as smart cards, or the content itself. Compared to Hackers (further along the Continuum), Criminals are well- organized and keep their methods to themselves so that they can generate revenue by selling their piracy solutions. Criminal activity is an industry issue for pay TV operators and is hard to stop with conditional access or DRM systems because the content can be streamed after it is decoded in the set- 60 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE top box or computer. In addition, there are often multiple providers offering the same content, so identifying where the pirated content is coming from can be a challenge unless a technology like watermarking or fingerprinting has been used. Successfully battling Criminals requires a multi-faceted approach of renewable content protection technologies, ongoing piracy management services, forensics and legal activities. Hackers “Let’s see how fast I can crack the security.” Hackers actively try to break down the protection that is securing content to gain access to it. However, the ultimate goal is not the content itself, but the intellectual satisfaction of finding ways to bypass the security. They view this as a challenge to test their skills against professionals in order to gain reputation with their peers. Many Hackers work with their peers to bypass different parts of content protection schemes. Alone, few Hackers could penetrate all of the defenses that are put in place, but working together they are able to find ways to access the content. There are groups formed, often online, with message boards and sites focused on how to overcome the challenge of attacking a secured system. However, due to the increased visibility of hackers over recent years, more underground and private channels are being used to reduce their visibility. Though the motives of Hackers are different than those of criminals, they must still be taken seriously, and successfully managing their activities requires many of the same measures used for dealing with Criminals. Screen shot of RankMyHack, a website for hackers to post their “accomplishments” Casual Pirates “I’m only doing this once in a while... who’s it going to hurt?” A Casual Pirate is someone who knows how to download illegal content and chooses to do so. The challenge when dealing with this group is that they do not believe they are doing anything wrong, that their individual activity will have nominal to no impact or worse yet, that they may not care that it is illegal. According to a study by Advanced Television, 70% of people do not believe it is wrong to download content as long as they are not making money from selling it to others. The Casual Pirate is often a voracious consumer of video, and uses a variety of easily available resources on the Internet to find and obtain the content they want – whether from Peer to Peer (P2P) sites, Cyberlockers, Usenet newsgroups or streaming sites. They don’t perceive a need to pay for it, even if it’s easily available at a reasonable price. They download it because they can, and because it satisfies their personal content consumption needs at a price that can’t be beat: free. Because Casual Pirates feel very “entitled” to do what they’re doing, it’s difficult to find ways to change their behavior. It is therefore most effective to use piracy management and